Internet of Things
Wikipedia defines Internet of Things, as “the internetworking of physical devices, buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.” At this point, it’s safe to say, we are on our way to reaching the threshold of having everything we own connected to the Internet. Could this be our real-life version of the Matrix? The line has become blurred, and the Internet of Things is almost indistinguishable. The day of a complete Internet integration is almost a reality. What started with smartphones has now included amateur “smart mirrors,” newer, smarter TVs, and more wearable tech offerings than ever before. Someday soon, we may just forget what it was like before full integration; but before that day gets here, we have smart homes, privacy concerns, business integration on the rise.
A Truly Smart Home
We have newer IoT home systems emerging seemingly daily, with many leading companies and investors getting involved. Apple has fallen surprisingly quiet with Siri, but it’s likely they may create a competing product. In fact, it is no surprise at all, considering how easy it is to go from the “Internet of Things” to full smart house integration. This isn’t just a Bluetooth speaker retrieving an email or text; this is your TV being able to speak to every appliance you have. Mirrors are displaying weather and traffic delays in real time. We may not even need smartphones soon enough when everything else is connected and more convenient to look at than down at a screen. (Infographic Credit to CBinsights)
ISPs will need to ensure that new upgrades are compatible with legacy systems without compromising quality or compatibility. It will be fascinating to see how Internet services will change how it enters the home, especially if the home doesn’t need a hardwired setup. It may come to a head where cities offer city-wide Wi-Fi to be used by everyone as a monthly utility.
While the obvious worrisome detail about more connections is more privacy breaches, the other is the entanglement of law enforcement. Already there is a recent case where local law enforcement wanted stored data from an Amazon Echo as they felt the regularly recorded audio would help with the case. However, Amazon legally owns that collected audio, and they won’t give it up unless they must by legal order. It may be that a warrant could surrender the data, or it may be another instance like the infamous iPhone unlocking case.
Does this mean that all near future competitors will have the same attitude? Or will others freely give it up? Just how much of your private data is truly “yours” when you authorize a corporation to record your constantly every waking moment? Furthermore, how much longer until there’s a home monitoring system that operates similarly in every home? As the physical walls to privacy break down, we may be freely giving up more of our freedom in the process.
Integrated Business Systems
Future Internet of Things integration won’t just stop at private residences. Companies will need to find ways to not only integrate existing technologies into the widening net of connected devices but also catch up with newer versions, if not entirely new systems altogether. Otherwise, beyond the obvious compatibility issues come unexpected security problems as well. Although there may still be time to introduce patches to existing hardware and software cross-compatibility, it will soon be necessary to streamline the process with one completely integrated system built from the ground up.
The upside is that new systems mean new IT architects. As technology advances, there will need to be new types of training implemented to ensure that they are created without glaring security holes from get go. There will also need to be new maintenance positions to regularly upkeep. It’s easy to see that traditional IT roles will transfer to new roles, with older positions being phased out with the complementary technology. The complete after effects would not yet be known; we just may need entirely need education programs launched throughout the academic community to keep up with demand.
Too Much Too Fast
There are increasingly more concerned reports wondering if IoT is headed towards a bubble. As more companies try to add more items into a connected net as quickly and furiously as possible, it wouldn’t take much to bring it to a screeching halt. One major security breach, privacy incident, or even a legislative bill could bring the entire industry crashing down. While it is not likely that full production would cease entirely, especially as so many privately-run corporations have created such a vast array of connected devices, this may lead to stricter regulations concerning what data is collected, how it is collected, as well as restrictions to how it connects online.
This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing; in fact, one could argue that too much IoT innovation has happened without adequately studying the effects it has had on the lives of ordinary citizens. It would be difficult to speculate just how easily some devices could be breached over others. What is clear is that regardless of whether the new bubble will burst, there does need to be a pause so we may analyze how and when changes should be implemented for consumer safety sake, as well as industry-wide consistency.
By Sachin Gupta,
Sachin is a technology writer and currently works for Code Brew Labs.